For the past four years The Greenbrier in Lewisburg, WV, has been the site of a great outpouring of hope and gift giving. The holiday gift drive, “Dream Tree for Kids”, will donate over $1 million in toys again this year. The toys collected and purchased from donations are distributed to local charities and to charities around the country.

Gifts wrapped by volunteers for distribution by the
Gifts wrapped by volunteers for distribution by the “Dream Tree for Kids” program. Image: Tina Cogar/Facebook

Jim Justice, owner of The Greenbrier, started the enormous holiday gift giving in 2011 using his own donations. He wanted to give back to his community and make sure each child in West Virginia could find a gift under their tree on Christmas morning.

Many children in West Virginia live in households that fall below the poverty line, and would not have a present under the tree without donations from programs like “Dream Tree for Kids.” The US Census Bureau site shows 17.9% of West Virginia’s population live below the poverty level while the national average is at 15.4%. These numbers reflect the undeniable truth that there is a strong need for charity in the state, especially around the Christmas holiday.

Charitable 501(c)(3) organizations register with the Dream Tree to receive the gifts and distribute them across the state and nationally. These organizations also have volunteers that give of their time by going to The Greenbrier and helping to wrap the vast amount toys.

Debbie Salgado and Tina Cogar at The Greenbrier volunteering to wrap presents. Image: Tina Cogar/Facebook
Debbie Salgado and Tina Cogar at The Greenbrier volunteering to wrap presents. Image: Tina Cogar/Facebook

One of Catholic Charities of West Virginia’s local offices, Catholic Community Services in Webster Springs, WV, had three volunteers make the two-hour trip to help wrap gifts: Tina Cogar, Outreach Coordinator, Cindy Hammer, Regional Director for Weston Region, and Volunteer, Debbie Salgado.

“2011 was the first trip we took to participate in the Dream Tree giveaway. That was also my first trip ever to The Greenbrier. To walk into this enormous room filled with people who were wrapping gifts, sorting gifts, unpacking gifts; it was an amazing experience. When we walked in, it was what Christmas was all about. You felt the spirit of Christmas,” stated Tina Cogar. “So many organizations had come together to participate in the program, and with everything that Mr. Justice has done for the state of West Virginia, it was just amazing to see him being able to help donate so many gifts to so many different organizations. At Catholic Charities, we are thrilled to be a part of that experience again this year. We help them and they help us. We received 225 gifts this year that will be distributed to needy children in our area”

At the Webster office of Catholic Charities, they are able to offer a host of services to qualifying individuals such as:

  • Emergency assistance for needed utilities like electric and water
  • Food pantry
  • Tax preparation
  • Thrift store
  • Assistance with medical prescriptions
  • Provide Christmas distributions
  • Organize Easter events
  • Participate in work camps with other states that provide repairs of low-income homes

Each Catholic Charities office has different services available. You can visit the website to find out what they offer in your area here. The Webster location can be reached at 304-847-7416 and is located at 113 North Main Street in Webster Springs, WV.

Let us strive to pay it forward and be generous this holiday season with not only gifts, but also the giving of our time, which could make a difference in someone’s life. We salute those volunteers who have made a child’s Dream Tree come true this Christmas.

 

If you are a part of an organization that would like more information on the “Dream Tree for Kids” program and how you can become involved, visit http://www.greenbrier.com/dreamtree.

 

 

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